Home at last

A few years ago, the Chico City Council held a number of public hearings that brought out the worst and best in human nature. The Esplanade House, a transitional housing program that for years occupied an old motel near the corner of The Esplanade and East Avenue, wanted to move into new digs about a half-mile up the Esplanade. It had the land, the money and the contractor to build it. What it didn’t have was a welcome from some of its new neighbors, who feared their property values would fall when “those kinds of people” (families whose parents are down on their luck for one reason or another) moved in.

The effort took five years. I’m pretty sure property values have not dropped in the area. Now the new facility, complete with 24 units for program participants, 36 units of Section 8 housing for graduates of the program, a childcare center and administration building, will be open to the community on Thursday, April 15, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be a ribbon cutting at 6, along with various presentations and tours of the facility. The residents are scheduled to start moving in next month. The house is located on the east side of The Esplanade and south of East Shasta Avenue. The entrance is at 181 E. Shasta Ave. Take The Esplanade north to East Shasta, turn right and head 100 yards and turn right again into the driveway that leads into the development. The new project is a collaborative effort of the Esplanade House Children’s Fund and the Community Action Agency of Butte County.

Boy, this is embarrassing, especially since it comes just a few weeks after I dinged a local publication for its failure to disclose the rather close relationship between a writer and her subject (see “Guilt by association” letter at right ). A couple of weeks ago we ran a three-page advertisement in this paper that was basically a collection of smaller ads, seven to eight per page, featuring local businesses. A company called American Media, out of Reno, Nev., sold and put together the ads. That company in turn purchased the three pages from this paper. The spread was called either the “2004 Consumer Business Review” or the “2004 Spring Consumer Business Review,” depending on the page. Across the bottom of the page, in varying fonts—again depending on the page you were on—were the words, “Save This Section, These Are Businesses You Can Trust.” Quote marks suggested someone had said this. But who? At the end of each ad was a tag line that said, “The editors of this 2004 CONSUMER BUSINESS REVIEW recommend business name here to all our readers.” To make it even worse, nowhere on this three-page spread could be found the words “paid advertising.” I could see where the average reader might think the “editors” are those of us who work in the editorial department of this paper.

Now I’ve heard some grumbling that the people selling these ads gave a confusing sales pitch to their targets. One business owner said she was initially told her business had been “chosen,” but upon further questioning on her part, she said, the salesperson finally got around to mentioning the purchase of an ad. (I myself didn’t see this three-page spread until the paper was published.) Consider this a blanket apology to anyone confused or misled by all of this. Credibility is a valuable commodity, and it’s all we have in this business that separates us from the apes (or the people who run the Synthesis).

I can’t think of a sadder story than that of the four little girls, ages 8 to 11, who were killed in a Glenn County last week when the car they were riding in slid into an irrigation ditch. They were reportedly headed to the movies as part of a birthday party. One of the girls was the daughter of Chico-area California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Fitzpatrick. Here’s a guy who sees the tragic aftermath of accidents all the time as part of his job, and then one hits home like this. Incredibly sad. The family has requested that donations, cards and so forth be sent to the CHP office in Chico at 995 Fir St., Chico CA 95928.